Uhlenbruch Zurich Conference kicks off

German publisher Uhlenbruch has launched its Annual Conference on Professional Investment in the Swiss market. The two-day event, held on 27-28 October in Zurich is aimed at managing directors and senior executives from institutional investment firms and asset management companies.

The event, which has been in Germany 18 years is now for the first time also available to Swiss investors.

Hans-Werner Sinn, president of the German ifo institute opened the event by stressing the unresolved nature of the eurozone crisis. Based on recent ifo index, he highlighted the surprisingly resilient nature of the German economy. “I almost fell off my chair when I saw yesterday’s figures” Sinn joked. Nevertheless, he warned that in the absence of a Greek default, the crisis in the Eurozone is likely to re-emerge within the next five years.

His presentation was followed up by Pius Fritschi, managing partner at LGT Capital Partners, who highlighted the benefits of a risk-adjusted integration of alternatives into traditional portfolios, focussing on insurance linked strategies and private equity investments as uncorrelated sources of return.

Peter Marber, head of emerging markets at Loomis, Sayles & Company challenged the current definition of emerging markets in the form of GDP per capita. Instead, he presented a word cluster analogy methodology including factors such as credit rating, currency valuation, stock market capitalisation to GDP, population size but also the rule of law and democratic development in equal weighting. Having clustered all countries based on this methodology in 2003 and 2013, he highlighted a striking process of convergence, with previously emerging countries now being classified as developed whereas developed countries now qualify as emerging countries.

In a subsequent panel debate, Marber was joined by Francesc Balcells, executive vice president and portfolio manager at Pimco, and Lars Rømer Sørensen, co-manager Global Emerging Markets at Maj Invest. Balcells made the argument that emerging market investors should increasingly look at risk adjusted profiles, rather than diversification by country.

The subsequent sessions will include presentations ranging from the search for alpha versus beta returns and key structural challenges for the Swiss asset management industry including the impact of regulation, competitive devaluations and its the pressure on the Swiss Franc as well as the impact of low interest rates.

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